Calvin Harris is the internationally acclaimed DJ, who has created an amazing career for himself. He is viewed as an industry unto himself, because he has revolutionized the importance of DJ sets, elevating them to touring performing status. He struggled early in his career, but his musical sounds reached the top of the music charts. He began by posting his own music on the Internet and eventually produced for Rihanna creating number one hits. He has sold millions worth of music under his own name. His talents as a remixer and DJ have earned him MTV and Grammy awards, and he reached the 2013 spot as the Forbes highest earning DJ.
Born Adam Richard Wiles, he is known as Calvin Harris. His father was a biochemist and his mother a homemaker. He grew up in Dumfries, Scotland, has a recording studio in London, and makes his home in Los Angeles. He has been ranked as one of the richest British musicians; 30th on the millionaire’s list. His personal worth has been estimated at $105 million. Here are 20 things you might not know about him:
1. He worked in a fish factory for a year.
Right after he left school he took on the fish factory job. He was laid off on his birthday, and then got a job at Safeway. He said that Safeway was less smelly, but he also made less money. He saved up 4000 lbs and moved to London trying to get known. He moved home to Scotland, and eventually set up his MySpace account. He added everyone that he thought might connect him to the music industry, and eventually his music clicked. In 2013, he made $66 million.
2. He recommended online that everyone on earth have a party on August 18, 2007.
The idea was that it would promote his single, Merry Making at My Place which came out two days later. He posted it online, and parents were warned to not to leave the house that day. Many people were upset enough by the announcement that the news hit the paper. There was great fear that some Harris was inciting some kind of “party mayhem” which would overtake the UK. He said prior to the date that he expected it to be a “world-wide phenomenon”.
3. He doesn’t really want to be seen wearing shorts.
Though later in his career he would model, early on his interviews revealed his shy side. He said he is Scottish and doesn’t want to be seen wearing shorts. He said he shouldn’t be wearing shorts in public. He said he has never ever worn a vest either. He’s fine with t-shirts, but he said that he’s not fond of being seen without his shirt on in public either. He said that being public without a shirt is “offensive”. He prefers to wear long pants even when he’s in a place where he’s very warm.
4. He doesn’t want to make twerking music.
He says that the music he makes is a completely different rhythm. He’s not interested in music for twerking, but he recognizes that it’s fine as a dance step, but the music is just for others to do. He likes his own music the way it is. He was offered the chance to watch a video with twerking, and he responded that he wasn’t likely to watch it.
5. He likes to research himself.
He went through an entire research process of his own output beginning from 2006 to discover what makes his music exceptional, or not. He loves certain tracks more than others. He actually compiled a very frank list of his favorites of his own songs, each of which he likes for very different reasons having nothing to do with the level of their commercial success. Included at the top of his list are:
No. 8- Summer
No. 7- Thinking About You
No. 6- I Need Your Love
No. 5- Under Control
No. 4- Blame
No. 3- Feel So Close- He did his own guitar work
No. 2- Outsider- He is obsessed with the string part, he created each track, and feels it is just right.
No. 1-We Found Love
6. Kylie Minogue invited Calvin to collaborate with her on her album X.
After that 2007 experience, he co-wrote and produced two successful songs including Heartbeat Rock and In My Arms. In My Arms hit the Top 10 in the UK. His own record for the most UK Top 10 Hits from a Studio Album came from 9 of the songs on his 18 Months album. It actually broke Michael Jackson’s previous record. He said that Kylie made tea and brought cake to the studio. He also said that she is a nice person, and that there is “nothing bad” in her. He felt very shy about working with her before-hand.
7. He had an argument with Katy Perry, backing out of her California Dreams 2011 Tour at the last minute.
He was supposed to play a 30 minute DJ set before her show in Dublin. He blamed his actions on her management team, noting that there would be “no production value for his set”. He tweeted an apology, and told his fans that they would not have been pleased with seeing what he was expected to do for her show. He did tweet that Perry’s show would be awesome and that fans would have a great time without him. Perry tweeted in response that many other acts had been willing to do her shows. She also added that she had become used to him cancelling on her because it had become his standard practice.
8. He loves the dirty side of Las Vegas.
He loves Las Vegas, and feels it is an amazing place. He said he is one of those people who actually likes the “disgusting parts” of the city. He chose the city to record his video Bounce. At the time he was doing two shows a month there, and the video was one of the shows. It is basically a massive party within the Las Vegas environment he really likes.
9. He wasn’t allowed to start the monster truck in his video You Used to Hold Me.
Insurance regulations kept him from starting the engine. He wasn’t able to “put his foot on the accelerator”. The only thing he was allowed to do was to turn the lights on and off. He added lots of girl dancers in the video because “you have to have pretty girls in a dance music video”. He said that the video was a “bit darker” than others he had made because it was more focused on club music. During the time the video was being made, he said that he was able to do “loads of things unnoticed”. He could go to the bank or shopping, and wander on the streets without being recognized.
10. Calvin views the 2015 single How Deep is Your Love as a dance ballad.
He enjoyed working on the single very much. The original material sent to him was rough, but that gave him the chance to stretch his musical skills. He mentioned that creating singles like this one is the format that he enjoys most and does best. He said that he would never want to replace the original, but was happy doing his own version.
11. Harris is 6’ 5” … and three-quarters.
Harris is very particular, and specific, about his height. He had his growth spurt between 15 and 16, and noted that he had some “very awkward years”. He shot up all at once, and his feet grew very quickly to his current size 13 shoe. He feels that his height is a touchy subject, because he wants to be an actual “giant”. He said he spent a long time walking around “like Lurch” as he became adjusted to his height. He implied that it would be easier when trying to deal with airplane seats. He has problems finding stylish shoes, too.
He joked that tall people are more genetically advanced. He says it is a choice to own his tallness.
12. His intangible talent for choosing what the next hit should be comes from listening to music all the time.
He says he embraces music from the 1960s forward. He derives inspiration from borrowing classic sounds and applying them to modern elements. He mixes sounds using every kind of good music from every genre. He spends time thinking about whether or not his ideas are actually good, and he believes that he has the ability to identify and act upon what is good. He feels that he can be “lazy with the lyrics” because he enjoys creating music the most.
13. He uses auto tune in the studio.
However out of tune the singing is in the studio, it can be fixed after the fact using this technology. He likes to sing while he is cooking. He hums while he is in the shower. He says he is not a natural singer, but it doesn’t matter so much, because he feels the most important thing is the performance of the music, rather than the perfection of pitch in his singing voice. He agrees that his ear for music is more tuned and refined than his voice. These are part of the reasons why he eventually made the decision to stop singing in his records, focusing on performing them, favoring body movement instead.
14. He feels that his work with other people will never be completed.
He has worked with other people many times, but he is not sold on the idea of doing remixes of classic songs. He says that songs which are great and have been done are enough. He feels that it’s important to look for the music which hasn’t been done yet. “We need other songs” and “let’s do some other songs” are his responses to the idea that he should remix older tunes. He looks forward to the many people he will work with in the future. He says that there are plenty of people he hasn’t met yet who will be wonderful to work with.
15. He was bullied into doing a series of Christmas 2007 jokes on YouTube.
All of the jokes were written by somebody else, and he said they “went down like a lead balloon.” He said that by the tenth day of jokes, everyone was saying “Oh no, not another one!” He couldn’t remember any of the jokes once the series was completed, and he would never do it again.
16. His favorite places to perform are Australia and Las Vegas.
He loves both places because they are party places. He enjoys Australia because the people there know how to party. He mentioned that all the major cities enjoy celebrating the important festivals in the year, and this gives him an opportunity to have a lot of fun while touring.
17. His favorite personal song written by himself is Feel So Close.
He was able to nail the right sound during production right away, and this made him feel good. He likes the loud sound, and the realization of the song was the successfully the same as what he heard inside his head before he started. He also “has a soft spot” for the Rihanna We Found Love. His favorite song produced by himself is Dizzy Rascal Holiday.
18. He felt that his sound became more manly as he grew out of his boyhood.
He believed that singing was holding him back from doing other things, so he stopped singing on tour. He learned that his best work is as a DJ, so he focused on doing DJ sets on tour and creating DJ videos. He noticed as time went by that his voice was becoming deeper, but he never considered himself to truly be a singer.
19. He thinks his Scottish accent is stronger in Scotland.
He likens performing in Scotland to celebrating Christmas, though he wasn’t always happy when he was living in Camden. He spends a major part of his year touring in Europe and performing in the United States. One of his highlights has been performing in Scotland at the music festival T in the Park. Though he enjoys performing in festivals around the world, it is a special treat to return to his homeland. He believes that his Scottish accent is stronger when he is home, as he is surrounded by more fellow Scots.
20. He said “the fallout” after modeling for Armani included very interesting tweet content.
When he first got the offer, he couldn’t imagine himself modeling. It was completely different from what he expected for himself, and that is the exact reason he felt he should do it. He thought about it for several weeks before he agreed. He became the Emporio Armani Spring Summer 2015 model, and the press went completely insane. He said that he had to eat plenty of healthy foods and workout a lot before he took on the job.
Written by Garrett Parker
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